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County accepts church’s offer for former DSS building

Rowan County Commissioners on Monday voted to sell a building that formerly housed a division of Social Services to a church.

The church will pay $300,000. That’s considerably less than the property’s assessed tax value, but the congregation’s offer was the only one of the county received.

Faith Assembly International Church made the offer in September for the county-owned building at 1236 W. Innes St. Its offer was significantly below the building’s $1.2 million tax valuation. Commissioners, however, unanimously accepted the church’s offer and said it might be the only chance the county has to offload the property, which has stood vacant for some time.

Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds briefly pondered whether it would be feasible to knock down the 30,000-square-foot building and sell the property as an empty parcel. Demolition would cost up to $200,000. Commissioners would then need a $500,000 offer just to receive the same financial gain, Edds said.

In response, Commissioner Craig Pierce spoke about the odd layout of the building.

“It’s actually three buildings tied together and not on the same elevation,” he said. “You’d travel inside the front door, go up the steps to the left, go down the steps to the right. It’s not an efficient building for most people to use.”

Pierce and Commissioner Mike Caskey both said a church might be the only suitable use for the building.

Pierce, when contemplating the effect of rejecting the offer, cited electric bills and landscaping needs such as mowing the grass as continued costs would continue to incur.

“Just how much longer are wer going to put out money on this piece of property with no return?” he asked. “I think our chances of getting another offer close to $300,000 are slim to none.”

Commissioners Vice Chairman Jim Greene said the $300,000 price symbolized what the market was willing to pay for the building.

After the church made an initial offer on the property, Rowan County was required to wait 10 days for any follow-up offers because of the method chosen for the sale. Commissioners chose to use the upset bid process, which is similar to an auction. No other offers were received.

“We’ve done what we could have and should have for this property,” Greene said. “I hope these folks take it and do well with it as a church. I don’t see that there’s anything else we can do other than sit on it and pay upkeep on a vacant building that’s already been sitting there for six, seven, eight or ten years.”

Following Greene’s comments, Pierce made a motion to sell the building. Commissioner Judy Klusman seconded the motion. It passed without opposition.

In other action Monday, commissioners:

• Approved construction documents for renovations to space for the Board of Elections and Veterans Services at West End Plaza.

Discussion about the construction work was limited. A representative of ADW Architects — the company supervising work at the West End Plaza — showed commissioners floor plans for the new space. County Manager Aaron Church briefly talked about financial costs associated with the project, which also includes replacing one third of West End Plaza’s roof.

Citing cost estimates from a facilities master plan completed early this year, Church said the entire first phase of construction work at West End Plaza — Veterans Services, Board of Elections and roof — would be about $2.3 million.

However, Church said the estimate is higher than the likely final cost. It would be closer to the approximately $1.8 million the county has budgeted for the work, he said. The projected excess expenditures are a result of inflation factored into the master plan’s projects, he said.

Monday’s agenda documents state construction work on West End Plaza would be done by May 2016.

• Picked Hickory-based McGill Associates to oversee construction work on a county-owned water and sewer system.

• Approved a rezoning near the Town of Cleveland.

Specifically, commissioners rezoned 1.8 acres of land on Old U.S. Highway 70 from manufactured home park to the rural agricultural designation.

• Picked Jan 7 and 8 to hold a retreat.

Contact Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246

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